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My story is a bit complicated, but my first symptoms of impaired balance and gait was caused by lumbar stenosis. I also had low back pain. I was referred to a neurologist who ordered a lumbar MRI which showed L4-L5 bulging discs and stenosis caused by an enlarged ligament. This had caused weakness in my left leg. He referred me to a neurosurgeon who prescribed 3 epidural steroid injections which did not relieve pain or symptoms. But the complication in all this was that shortly after I saw the original neurologist, I fell backwards due to the balance problem and hit the back of my neck on a granite base of a tombstone. I didn't have any pain, so foolishly, I didn't get it checked out. That was in June of 2007. As time went on, I began to have more numbness and tingling in place that I hadn't previously, such as fingers, elbows, lower right leg, and by March of 2008 I had such bad neuropathy in my feet that I had blood blisters. I went back to my primary care dr. and she sent me to a podiatrist, who urged me to find out what was going on, she suspected MS or something like that. I had very hyper reflexes by then. When she tried to cut my toenails, my leg had to be held down by her assistant.
I went back to the neurosurgeon who ordered a cervical MRI of my neck, which then showed the vertebrae dislodged at C7-T1 and it was compressing the spinal cord. It had actually bruised the cord. There are tracts in your spinal cord which control different parts of the body below, and so I had symptoms in my left arm, elbow, weakness in left arm and hand, tingling in right ring and little finger, sensations in right arm, and pins and needles in right leg, especially below the knee, even some itching around my torso. My feet were what finally scared me the most. The surgeon ordered an EMG and recommended an anterior and posterior fusion to stabilize my spine. I was so shocked, I went for a second opinion, and liked the second neurosurgeon better, so he did the surgery, and he was able to do all of the repair from the front, which made for an easier recovery. I had physical therapy to restore strength in my hands and arms, as well as work on balance. I am much better than I was, but the damage was done to my peripheral nerves. I still have most of the sensations that I had prior to surgery, but the bottom line is that I am not paralyzed.
You don't have pain when the nerves are actually dying, so loss of function is what they look for.
You probably need a more up to date MRI, and I would encourage you to consult with a neurosurgeon who does lots of spinal surgeries. They know what to look for on an MRI that the neurologist doesn't. If your cord shows myelomelacia, which mine did, that is serious. If the blood supply is fully cut off, you can be paralyzed. I feel so fortunate and blessed that I finally discovered what was going on with me. You may not need surgery, but the neurosurgeon can explain what is really going on in your cervical spine.





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